Carlos Barria / REUTERS Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to U.S. President Donald Trump during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 2017.

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The Real Opportunity Behind the Media Spectacle

By Michael Kimmage

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MICHAEL KIMMAGE is Professor of History at the Catholic University of America and the author of The Decline of the West: An American Story. From 2014 to 2016, he served on the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State, where he held the Russia/Ukraine portfolio.

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet for a frenetically anticipated summit on July 16 in Helsinki. Their encounter—coming amid cascading revelations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, unnerving questions about Trump’s admiration for his Russian counterpart, and U.S.-Russian tensions around the globe—is certain to be a media spectacle. But as its location subtly implies, the real importance of the meeting may have little to do with the theatrics at the top. Unglamorous, largely unnoticed diplomatic processes could prove more consequential. In Helsinki in 1975, the United States, the Soviet Union, and various European powers devised a security architecture for Europe that was controversial at the time but ultimately crucial to the Cold War’s peaceful end. Without the Helsinki Accords, which fostered agreement on Europe’s borders and enshrined a nominal commitment to human rights in the Eastern bloc, the revolutions of 1989 may never have come and almost certainly would not have been as peaceful as they were. Irregular Choice ORIGINAL DIVA women's Court Shoes in Multicolour,Högl Hogl WESTMINSTER HOGL LADIES FASHION SHOE Size: 6, Colour: NAVY,Sugar Shoes - Tan - Standard Fit - 6,Dubarry Kildare Boots, Brown, UK 10 (EU44),Charles Tyrwhitt Brown Goodyear Welted Oxford Brogue Shoe Size 7 W by Charles Tyrwhitt,Alexander Mcqueen Court - Women Alexander Mcqueen Courts online on United Kingdom - 11230096HI, Geox LISE ABX A women's Low Ankle Boots in Petite Mendigote KALOU women's Low Boots in BrownNike Air Max 95 DUSTY PEACH WHITE PRM,Nueva Epoca - Buenos Aires - Nappa Black/White - UK 7,Cotswold Stonehouse Mens Waterproof Shoe,Mephisto 'TYRON' Chestnut Brown Leather - 11Sergio Rossi Boots - Women Sergio Rossi Boots online on United Kingdom - Betty London NORMANDIA women's High Boots in Black, Mosquitos HOURA women's Sandals in Orange, Ash DRAGON women's Low Ankle Boots in Black,6642 Nappa Black - Nappa Black - UK 11.5,Ladies Mini Classic Sheepskin Boots Black UK Size 8Grenson Declan Chelsea Boot BlackMoon Boot The Original Msgm Boots - Women Moon Boot The Original Msgm Boots online on United Kingdom - 11489500AC, Marc Jacobs SIENNA women's Espadrilles / Casual Shoes in JB Martin 1VIVO women's Shoes (Trainers) in Black, Geox D OMAYA women's Shoes (Trainers) in Blue,County Boots - Chocolate - Standard Fit - 9,Rockport Total Motion Cerelia Calanthe,Nike Juvenate Print QS - Wit,Jil Sander Navy Boots - Women Jil Sander Navy Boots online on United Kingdom - Gola HARRIER men's Shoes (Trainers) in Brown, Moa - Master Of Arts MoA Mickey Mouse white leather sneaker women's Shoes (Trainers) in White, Paul Joe Sister GALIERA women's Espadrilles / Casual Shoes in WhiteThe lessons of that previous U.S.-Russian encounter in Helsinki are worth remembering now. The agreement that resulted involved years of drab, painstaking diplomacy. It required agonizing compromise on both sides. It rested on work rather than optics. Under the shadow of low expectations, a difficult process preceded final success. The summit’s real importance, in other words, had little to do with momentary media spectacle. The same could be true of next week’s Trump-Putin meeting.

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